Looking at Assassination

There are several adjectives that have been used to describe me over the years (at work). Usually these have run toward organized, meticulous, patient, observant, professional, and efficient. I have been accused of being “too motherly” and too unemotional in the past as well. I can live with that. Descriptors that have never been used in describing me include petty, vindictive, dishonest, deceitful, and unskilled. Until now. The additional accusations that I “have a hidden agenda” and I’m “evil” just made me laugh. Of course the definition of assassination is ‘to injure or destroy unexpectedly and treacherously’. I’m not too much concerned about my professional reputation or my character. Anyone who knows me can come to their own conclusions and if questioned I will just have to say that they should consider the source.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Watching Plans Go Awry

I’m a planner. I make lists and agendas and have several calendars that chart the course of my life in hours, days, weeks, months and even years. It is not in my nature to “wing it”. On the other hand I have been trained in emergency medical response. That means I have explored the chaos and “what if” scenarios and have armed myself with the appropriate reactions. When things go sideways I am prepared. If I haven’t already prepared for the specific issue, I have the flexibility and confidence to formulate a response. I stay cool under pressure.

I am staying calm as I watch plans go awry. Moving in slow motion, an avalanche seems distant and silent. My brain knows that it is not silent and it is not a sluggish disaster. As the solid water tidal wave gets closer I realize that there are few options. The idea that I can brace for impact and survive is silly and impractical. Instead I’m evaluating the possibility of sheltering in place or making a run for it. I am not a coward. I am also not an idiot.

So where does that put me? Smack in the middle. I’m going to exercise my critical thinking skills. By evaluating the magnitude of the problem, weighing the options, and performing a few tests and trial runs, I should be able to reformulate my plans. Or at least get things back on track after seeing them go clean off the rails! Yep. Fun times.

Looking at How My Garden Grows

I want to preface this post with the way my household works. I see plants that I like and Sparky puts them in the ground (where I want them). I call them my plants and he insists that they are his plants since he waters and fertilizes them. If it were up to him, we wouldn’t have any flowers unless you count a flowering crab apple tree.

Many years ago I was looking for some low maintenance perennials to replace the roses that the previous owner had planted. I decided to get some hostas. I was unaware that there were a multitude of varieties. I bought “Francee” which are very popular and have green leaves with white edges. I was happy. Then I discovered Elephant Ears, Afterglow, Blue Boy, Buttercup, Undulata, Praying Hands, and a bunch more. There was a woman who always had a garage sale and would sell starts of her hostas for a $1. Her whole yard was an enormous hosta garden with hundreds of varieties. I would buy at least 2 different ones every year. My neighbor across the street also has a large hosta garden in her back yard where the shade is deep. I traded her an orb in exchange for 2 starts of hostas – the “Elephant Ear” and “Sum and Substance”. All was well.

Then it happened. I was given some day lilies that had been thinned from a fellow ceramic student’s garden. These were the common orange day lilies which some snobby types refer to as “ditch” lilies.  They are hearty and prolific. They spread to fill the space and Sparky was able to separate them and fill in several spots among the perimeter of the fence. Then I saw some deep red day lilies at a garage sale. I bought them. The woman said they were called “Pardon Me”. Sparky planted them and they bloomed – a really nice contrast to orange ones.

Then I bought some orange ones “Kwanzo” that I posted photos of last year on xanga, that when they bloomed had double petals making them very fancy!

A couple weeks ago I was shopping with Sparky at Lowe’s when a woman walked past me with 4 lily plants – they were gorgeous! They were Asiatic Lilies that has bright pink flowers with dark pink speckles. The blooms were at least a big as my hand. I asked her where she had found them and she pointed me in that direction. Imagine my disappointment in locating them with a price tag of $17.99 each! At the end of the season I’ll have Sparky keep an eye out for them on clearance. Anyway, I was at a garage sale and the woman was selling some day lilies. We got to talking and she took me to her backyard to show me her flowers. Wow. Just wow. Anyway she sold me a start of her “Mary Todd” day lilies for $2.

She invited me to come back next year and I can have a start of some of the “Chorus Line” which were a pale peachy pink color and very beautiful.

Seeking a Work-Life Balance

Summertime both day and night
Stories filled with high adventure make-believe
Plucked from books that held delight
From library shelves receive
Tales to boost the fertile mind’s escape achieve

Join me in high excitement
Slip away from worries, woes, and troubled times
An open book indictment
Read stories or poem rhymes
Create a new work and leisure paradigm

This is a Lira. The lira is a Spanish form consisting of any number of stanzas. Each stanza is composed of 5 lines with the syllable count of 7/11/7/7/11 and using the rhyme scheme of a-b-a-b-b.
I’m feeling that my work-life is out of balance. Even though I am not putting in more hours than my already 45-50 hour weeks, I feel like I’m always worried about work. I have been unable to turn off the thoughts. I’m constantly turning over questions and conundrums in my head. How will I motivate people? Will I be given the freedom to educate and mentor the way I want? What is the best way to do that? Will I need to work weekends or holidays? Will people quit? Will I be effective? How will I handle conflicts? So in response to this stress I’ve taken to escapism. I picked up a book. It was one I had read before but I couldn’t remember the details. I read it in 24 hours. It was a lovely vacation. I then decided to read the National Geographic – cover to cover. Yes even the advertisements. It too was a nice escape. Then I read “Hyperbole and a Half” which is a collection of comics/autobiography book thing. I started reading and then I started laughing and had to put it down to get a kleenex. There isn’t anything quite as satisfying as a really funny read. So I’m plowing through some reading materials as a diversion while preparing for the implementation of the new departmental organization.

Watching Ducklings

It finally happened! Momma duck has hatched her eggs.  Sparky took a couple photos while I was geocaching with saintvi.  First he counted just 2 ducklings.

Then there were 5.

At last count there were 7 ducklings! The babies are sticking very close to their mother. In fact, at one point they were trying to climb onto her back!

By the time I got home she had all her little ones safely tucked beneath her wings. She was not happy with me taking her picture. And when I clicked the photo she let out a menacing hiss. She has been on high alert since the eggs have hatched and with good reason. Sparky was picking peas this evening and a young opossum came strolling down the path and was very interested in coming into the yard. Somehow they know when vulnerable animals are nearby. Sparky chased him off and made it a point to toss some walnuts at him to punctuate the point that opossums are NOT welcome at our house!

Watching Fireworks

I’m not sure how it happens but when a group of people gather to watch fireworks they all make the same sounds. It doesn’t matter the age or language, we all intone “oooh” and “aaah” as the pyrotechnic display flashes across our retinas. I had the pleasure of watching fireworks with a group of people I met through Xanga. Even though Xanga is functionally dead, these connections persist and for that I’m forever thankful for my Xanga experience. We shared food and then watched the fireworks. I was too busy watching the sky and I’m not a photographer so my best shots are kind of pitiful.

I’ve been watching lots of fireworks lately at work too. The explosive environment there has made many of us act like the little ones experiencing the 4th of July fireworks for the first time – eyes wide in amazement with a touch of terror and hands clasped over ears to muffle the loud booms. I can’t go into particulars but there have been flashes and flames and loud sudden blasts. Most of us have a healthy respect for fire and hear our mother’s voices yelling at us to step away. But we seem to be locked in the same room as the powder keg and we have a couple of people lighting matches and tossing them around. I’m hoping that either the matches are taken away, the sprinkler system kicks in making everything too wet to burn, or I can crawl out a window and take cover in a “hidey-hole” until the danger has passed. In the mean time if you listen carefully you can hear my muffled cries of oooh and aaah and a few yikes!

Looking at My Navel

Sometimes good navel gazing is in order. When was the last time you took a good introspective assessment? Sure we look in the mirror and judge whether the shirt is too tight or the colors match. What I’m talking about is the consideration of motives and examination of conscience. Since this world seems stuck in fast forward, I decided to take a few minutes (actually it was more like a few hours) it turn my gaze inward. This is what I saw:

* I am passive aggressive. And pretty much an expert at it too.
* My intrinsic motivation is centered on feeling that what I do helps the world.
* I have very weak emotional connections to most people.
* My family and a very few number of friends get to see the real me.
* I self censor my words – spoken and written. I’m really struggling to reveal my true self here.
* I have a sharp tongue. Most never hear it because of the censorship.
* I am not as patient with myself as I am with others.
* I am obsessive/compulsive – I need order, neatness, everything in its place…
* I loathe procrastination yet seem to have developed a selective procrastination habit.
* I pray but it feels disingenuous. I have decided to try a new method that is without words – the open heart technique.
* I need to cultivate my inner child. Stress makes my sense of fun disappear.
* I am moderating my addictive behaviors. This includes snacks, online games, and xanga.

I don’t much like everything that was there. It is much easier to pick lint from your belly button than to make changes to your personality and psyche. Nevertheless, I am embarking on the journey. The first step is to own my flaws. Once identified and defined, it becomes much easier to change. With all the change at work it shouldn’t make a whit of difference to add to the mess.

Looking at Celebratory Pie

To celebrate the 4th of July and to serve with the dinner I made for saintvi, Seedsower, and JoyousWind, I made pie. It was a very tasty pie – rhubarb mango peach. I used my regular rhubarb pie recipe but tweaked it to give it a little more exotic flavor in keeping with the mango component. The secret ingredient was cardamom. I added just a 1/8 teaspoon in addition to the cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of cloves. You will just have to take my word for it that it was delicious.

Can you make out the bottle rocket and exploding fireworks??

Looking at Parenting Styles

Some people are better parents than others. Some animal species are better parents than others. So I posted about the mama duck that has decided to nest behind the hostas next to our front porch. This is a first for us. When we had children and a dog, no wildlife was so foolish as to attempt to come into the yard let alone try to raise their young within shouting distance of Ranger “squirrel chaser/chipmunk maimer”. This month our front yard is a designated wildlife sanctuary. About a week before the duck decided to lay eggs Sparky was mowing the yard. The grass had gotten a bit long due to the rain giving it a growth spurt and making it too wet to mow. As he approached the middle of the front yard he noticed a brown spot of dead grass. He stopped mowing to see what was up (possibly an area of grub infestation or maybe some of those ding-dang chipmunks). To his dismay it was a shallow burrow made by a rabbit. She had dug a small hole and plucked out her hair to line it. When Sparky examined it more closely by lifting the dry grass on top, he could see several little baby bunnies.

He placed a stick from the mulch on the top of the burrow supposedly to be able to see if the mother rabbit was coming back. He designated that area a “no mow” zone. We haven’t seen the mother rabbit but that isn’t unusual. Wild rabbits will only suckle their young every 10 to 12 hours and only for a few minutes. She is a pretty stealthy mom. Unlike the duck who doesn’t budge from her nest, the mother rabbit is seldom home. Not that she is a bad mother, on the contrary, she is an excellent mother. By spending so much time away from her babies, she is not attracting attention to them and not leaving a scent trail to the burrow. We’ve been monitoring them and they are growing. I haven’t wanted to disturb their burrow so I only have the one photo of the babies.

It appears that there are four baby bunnies currently. They have fur and their eyes are open. This places them at about 10 days old. They probably have another 2 weeks before they are ready to be on their own. Sparky is hoping our weather stays a little dry so that the grass isn’t unmanageable in the “no mow” zone once they’ve abandoned the burrow! At any rate he will need to reseed that spot!

UPDATE:I came home from work and Sparky announced that the bunnies had been in and out of their burrow all day. He managed to snap a photo before he spooked the little guys and they booked it back into hiding. I went out after dinner and there was no sign of them. The next morning they were all gone. Sparky found one hiding in the iris when he moved the hose. I’m pretty sure they will be moving to more secluded spots within days…

If you look closely you can just make out a second pair of ears above the bunny in the middle!

Watching it Happen

By a spider in the cupboard
A sudden movement
The drop of the other shoe
When the danger looms
Failing to react to change
Caught in a political riptide
By a new paradigm
Empty the desk
Turn in the keys
Emotions suppressed
Feigned concern
Tears of joy mimicking sorrow

The Organizational Analysis and Design (OAD) process is complete. The “roll-out” has happened. There were tears of relief as well as frustration and anger. No one said it was going to be easy. No matter what was decided, not everyone was going to be happy. It is always an ugly business to have a “reduction in force”. I however, have been waiting for a quarter of a century for this to occur. Having been the whipping boy, and watched others take their turn at the pillory, it is with satisfaction that I sit back and observe the unfolding of these events. My witness confirms the adages “What goes around, comes around” and “Give them enough rope and they will hang themselves”! I will not gloat nor do I wish harm for those affected. I do not, on the other hand, feel much sadness for the individuals caught in this cataclysm.